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2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is Set to Bring an Array of Asian and Asian Pacific American Films Celebrating 33 Years

Posted April 4th, 2017 by Visual Communications in Press


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BARBARA THOMPSON [email protected]
ELISHA GUSTAFSON [email protected]
FRANCISCO SANCHEZ [email protected]




2017 LAAPFF Marks First Year As Academy Qualifying Festival for Short Films in the
Animated Short Film/Live Action Short Film Categories of the Academy Awards®

The 15th Anniversary of Justin Lin’s Landmark Film “BETTER LUCK TOMORROW” Kicks Off the
Festival as Opening Night with the Original Sundance Version Presented by Justin Lin

Gala Screening of Justin Chon’s Sundance Audience Award Winning Film “GOOK” will be
Centerpiece Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the LA Uprising

The Los Angeles Premiere of Hit Sundance Film “COLUMBUS” from First Time Feature
Filmmaker Kogonada and Starring John Cho Serves as Closing Night Gala

LAAPFF Partners with UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to Present
as Special Presentation on Historic April 29 Weekend With Panels, Art Installations and Films

Encore Festival Screenings Expand Festival to Orange County in Buena Park Starting May 5

April 4, 2017 – LOS ANGELES   Visual Communications (VC), the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its program of outstanding films and events for the upcoming 33rd edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running APRIL 27 – MAY 4, 2017. This encompassing annual film celebration is presented across the city of Los Angeles from Hollywood to Little Tokyo to the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles to Koreatown to Westwood to West Hollywood and to Buena Park in Orange County . 

VC proudly celebrates 33 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind.  The LAAPFF launches the pre-celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 180 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists.  For over three decades, the Festival has presented close to 4,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian international talent.  This year, a record number 45 feature films and 139 shorts from over 750 submissions will be showcased throughout the eight-day fest.

This year’s Film Festival represents the growing multitude of talent from this diverse creative community, and serves as a reminder of how the Asian American film community continues to thrive and inspire.  With terms like “whitewashing” and “inclusion” being at the forefront of discussions in Hollywood, the festival takes on not only presenting the best of Asian American film, but also the mission of inspiring new filmmakers/storytellers to create, while taking a retro look at the beginnings of a global cinematic genre.   Stories by women, men, LGBTQ artists, seniors, youth, Asian Pacific American, Asian international, and a multitude of ethnicities are all being shared throughout the Festival.

This year’s opening night kicking off the Fest is the 15th Anniversary special gala presentation of director/writer Justin Lin’s uncut 35mm Sundance original version of the landmark film BETTER LUCK TOMORROW.  Director Lin (THE FAST AND FURIOUS franchise #3,#4,# 5, & #6; STAR TREK: BEYOND) will present this rarely-seen version of the film that launched his career at Sundance 2002, when it was championed by the late iconic film critic, Roger Ebert, and then having MTV FILMS and Paramount Classics pick it up for theatrical distribution nationwide.  The film features Asian American film actors starring in lead roles including John Cho, Sung Kang, Jason Tobin, Roger Fan, Parry Shen, and Karin Anna Cheung. 

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW centers on an accomplished high school student, Ben (Parry Shen) who seems to excel at almost everything except winning over his dream girl, Stephanie (Karin Anna Cheung). When he begins an unlikely friendship with trouble-seeking tough guy Daric (Roger Fan), Ben becomes involved in petty crime that gets increasingly dangerous, with his various illegal ventures extending to include Stephanie and her wealthy beau, Steve (John Cho). Can these restless teens curb their criminal activities before it’s too late? The film pushed the boundaries on the “model minority” discussion and inspired Asian American audiences across the nation to come out to the cinema, while positioning director Justin Lin as a Filmmaker to Watch, as recognized by industry publication Variety that year.


Members of the cast and crew will be in attendance for Q/A following the celebratory screening.  BETTER LUCK TOMORROW screens Opening Night April 27 at 7PM at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

“In the context of a shifting America, we proudly present an intro/retrospective look at Justin Lin’s BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, a landmark film for Asian American cinema in 2002,” says Executive Director Francis Cullado.  “Through the Festival overall, we seek to create spaces for connection and add to the dialogues of change.  And we ask ourselves, how far have we come? And how much further do we need to go?”

The Festival Centerpiece Presentation features the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winning film – GOOK – from actor turned filmmaker JUSTIN CHON.  This vibrant and insightful film takes place on April 29, 1992 in Los Angeles – the day the Rodney King verdict was announced and the infamous L.A. Riots began.  Chon’s film centers on Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, who own a struggling shoe store and have an unlikely friendship with Kamilla, a street-wise 11 year old African American girl.  It’s just another typical day at the store until the Rodney King verdict is read and riots break out through the city. With the chaos moving towards them, the trio is forced to defend the store while contemplating the future of their own personal dreams and the true meaning of family.


GOOK will be presented on Saturday, April 29 at the Aratani Theatre at the JACCC in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.  The festival is commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the L.A. Uprising/Rodney King verdict with this gala screening featuring the filmmaker, crew and cast.  This screening will top off a day of films, events, community discussions and art presentations memorializing this historic Los Angeles event.

“We are extremely excited to have GOOK as our centerpiece film,” says David Magdael, Festival Co-Director. “ Justin Chon has been one of the hardest working actors out there and has been in a number of films at our past Fests.  Watching him grow into a formidable writer/director/actor with this film makes us all proud and hopeful.  This film has come at a time when we truly need our voices and our stories out there, while addressing hot button issues such as race and community in an America that is quickly changing and becoming extremely polarized.  And screening this film on the 25th anniversary of this major Los Angeles event is only fitting.  This film is a catalyst for discussion, and Chon is an artist on the rise representing the next generation of our artists telling our stories.” 

Closing out this year’s eight day film celebration is the Los Angeles premiere of the acclaimed 2017 Sundance hit film COLUMBUS from director Kogonada – a proud immigrant, born in Seoul and raised in the Midwest.   This beautiful and engaging feature directorial debut stars John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin and Michelle Forbes.  The film centers on Casey (Richardson) who lives with her mother in a little-known Mid-western town haunted by the promise of modernism. Jin (Cho), a visitor from the other side of the world, attends to his dying father. Burdened by the future, they find respite in one another and the architecture that surrounds them. 


“Having COLUMBUS as our Closing Night film presents our audiences dual opportunities to celebrate a maturation of Asian Pacific American cinema,” said Abraham Ferrer, Festival Co-Director and Senior Programmer.  “To have a daring, yet satisfying new work from Kogonada, a filmmaker who himself is a ‘new’ pioneer of visual storytelling, is a coup.  And, the opportunity to present longtime Film Festival veteran John Cho as he carries this new film in an atypical, commanding leading role is humanizing, life-affirming, and challenging all at the same time.  We are excited to be presenting the film, and we are heartened to expand the parameters of our special #StarringJohnCho tribute spotlight on this excellent Asian Pacific American acting luminary.”

COLUMBUS screens on May 4 at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood with the filmmaker along with his cast and crew in attendance for post screening Q/A. 

In 2016, in response to the lack of Asian American males in leading roles in films and the continuing whitewashing of Asians by Hollywood studios, William Yu, a young man from New York, established the trending hashtag #StarringJohnCho.  This year’s LAAPFF is addressing this theme and presenting three films starring John Cho.  These are BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (Opening Night); YELLOW (the 20th anniversary of the Chris Chan Lee classic); and COLUMBUS (the festival’s Closing Night film).  Cho will also be presented the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Career Achievement Award recognizing his amazing career.

“We felt it fitting to honor John Cho at this year’s Fest with this award,” states Chanel Kong, Festival Manager.  “For nearly 20 years, John has been constantly representing on screen, stage and television.  We are proud of his contributions as an actor and as a supporter of the Film Festival, VC and fellow Asian American artists.  Last year’s hashtag #StarringJohnCho was a reminder of his importance both to our community and to American cinema.  This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate his career by showcasing his performances in our Opening Film, in our retrospective screening of YELLOW, as well as in his latest lead role in our Closing Film.”

Bringing together industry and Asian American talent, the LAAPFF is proud to present the seventh edition of C3 – the Conference For Creative Content where creative and Hollywood industry leaders join together to create a dialogue with the community discussing important issues and trends taking place in the entertainment arena.  The only event of its kind, C3 brings together foremost media professionals and academics in film, television, cable, digital, gaming and transmedia to create a dialogue on the ever-changing media industry, share best practices, network, celebrate and build a collective vision for our community.

C3 will converge on the opening weekend of the Festival on Saturday, April 29th and Sunday April 30th at the Japanese American National Museum, located in the Little Tokyo district of Downtown Los Angeles. There also will be a special free panel on Monday, May 1 in Mid-Wilshire.

Panels are presented together with these industry guilds and partners:

  • Directors Guild of America (DGA)
  • Korean Film Council (KOFIC)
  • Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG)
  • Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
  • UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW)

“The way we view, consume and create content continues to shift and evolve rapidly,” said Milton Liu, Director of C3. “This year, C3’s theme is FUTURE FORWARD. It’s our goal to dive in and hear from the forerunners of this change, especially from Asian Americans leading the way.”

Every year, the LAAPFF International Showcase of new works from Asia highlights films and filmmakers from throughout the continent. This year is no different as the Festival boasts acclaimed features from Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Macao, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peoples Republic of China, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

For the first time ever, the LAAPFF will present a Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Asian International documentary and narrative feature. The line up of these award-nominated documentaries and features include:

Documentary Features

  • MOTHERLAND Dir.: Ramona S. Diaz
  • PLASTIC CHINA Dir.: Wang Jiu-liang
  • SMALL TALK Dir.: Huang Hui-Chen
  • TOKYO IDOLS Dir.: Kyoko Miyake

Narrative Features

  • BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK Dir.: Anocha Suwichakornpong
  • DIAMOND ISLAND Dir: Davy Chou
  • KING OF PEKING Dir.: Sam Voutas
  • POP AYE Dir.: Kristen Tan
  • RESEBA – THE DARK WIND Dir.: Hussein Hassan
  • SAVING SALLY Dir.: Avid Liongoren
  • THE SOUL OF THE TIGER Dir.: François Yang
  • THE SOWER Dir.: Yosuke Takeuchi
  • TAXI STORIES Dir.: Doris Yeung
  • TURN LEFT TURN RIGHT Dir.: Douglas Seok

“We are very excited to present some of the freshest and most indispensable voices in Asian International cinema this year,” says Programming Consultant Anderson Le. “Our festival line-up offers a unique opportunity for audiences to encounter award-winning and critically acclaimed works from Asia and the diaspora.

Further, on the international landscape, the LAAPFF will present spotlight programs on the current wave of important Taiwanese Cinema and Southeast Asian Cinema adding to the ever budding global cinema landscape.

  • SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN The Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles joins the Festival to present “Spotlight on Taiwan”, a spotlight on Taiwanese cinema offerings programmed during the week.
  • TIGERS ROAR The “Tigers Roar” program focuses on Southeast Asian Cinema with film screenings at the Fest and partnering with the two-day ASEAC-SEARCN LA Conference at UCLA. The sharing of experiences through film and media becomes increasingly important during these fast changing times of ensuring that our voices, images and stories are heard and seen. The LAAPFF is proud to present the following important special presentations that include discussions, films, performance art, and media installations that will provide dialogue, reflection, inspiration and encouragement.
  • FILM – SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS – this amazing selection of special film presentations include award winning features from across the globe highlighting stories, issues and filmmakers that are pushing the boundaries. These include:

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL – Dir. Steve James From acclaimed director, Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS, LIFE ITSELF), this acclaimed and insightful film tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

JOSHUA: TEENAGER VS. SUPERPOWER – Dir. Joe Piscatella When the Chinese Communist Party alters its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong– handed back to the Chinese government from British rule in 1997 – teenager Joshua Wong decides to fight for his homeland. Rallying thousands, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong. A remarkable portrait of courage, resilience, & the power of youthful idealism, JOSHUA: TEENAGER VS. SUPERPOWER is a chronicle of one young man risking his own future for a greater good. Winner of the Audience Award, World Cinema Documentary, 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

RELOCATION: ARKANSAS-AFTERMATH OF INCARCERATIONDir. Vivienne Schiffer A look at the aftermath of the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans in the Deep South, the harsh reality of prejudice, and the cruel irony of identity, told through the words of one survivor, one rebel, and one woman mayor.

RE:ORIENTATIONS – Dir. Richard Fung A look into the lives and thoughts of seven queer pan-Asian Canadians as they look back on the groundbreaking 1984 documentary in which they were featured. How have they changed? And how has the world around them evolved and changed?

THREE SASSY SISTERS – Dir. Nia Dinata Three sassy sisters: Gendis (32), Ella (28), and Bebe (19), are very passionate about running their family boutique hotel by the beach in the eastern part of Indonesia’s archipelago. Their grandmother, however, is frustrated because she is unable to find the ideal matches for her granddaughters. Grandma doesn’t give up. Her ultimate goal in life is to find suitable men for her granddaughters.

YELLOW – Dir. Chris Chan Lee (20th Anniversary Screening) #Starring JohnCho A normal evening turns into a wild and desperate scavenger hunt for eight high school friends in the coming of age dramedy, YELLOW. When the group rallies to help a friend who was robbed, the lines between adolescent and adult are blurred in this 1997 classic.

  • BRONZEVILLE, LITTLE TOKYO sheds light on an overlooked moment in history when Japanese and Japanese-Americans were displaced during World War II and African-Americans moved into Little Tokyo. For this brief period in the 40’s, this area was known as “Bronzeville.” To honor this period, FORM follows FUNCTION and Visual Communications present a special two-day program featuring an interactive media installation, a 360° virtual reality presentation, and a live Jazz performance on Historic First Street North. Locations include the Historic Nishi Building, the Union Center for the Arts and the Japanese American National Museum.
  • FLASH POINT 2017 – TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER THE LOS ANGELES UPRISING  The city of Los Angeles has not been the same since April 29, 1992. With racial tension peaking and riots sparking across the city, it became clear that Angelenos were demanding a drastic change in the relationship between police officers and racial minorities. Twenty-five years after the LA uprising, there is still a question of the treatment of people of color and the socio-political factors in Los Angeles. The Festival is partnering with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for this historic weekend utilizing art and media to examine the socio-political factors that provoked the 1992 LA Uprising and its impact in the racial and economic climate in LA and across the U.S. today. The events begin on Friday April 28 launching a full weekend of programming including two panels featuring a discussion of the evolution of community organizing, as well as the role media (particularly film) has played in creating and reflecting social change. A Screening of Dai Sil Kim-Gibson’s landmark WET SAND:  VOICES FROM LA will kick off the April 29th day of events including panel discussions with filmmakers Dai Sil Kim-Gibson and Charles Burnett; Funmilola Fagbamila of Black Lives Matter; author Robin D.G. Kelly; filmmakers Justin Chon, and Renee Tajima Pena; comedian/artivist Jenny Yang; journalist Phil Yu and others.  The gala screening of Justin Chon’s film GOOK will close out the April 29TH anniversary.  While on Sunday April 30, filmmaker Grace Lee will present the interactive project KTOWN 92 and featured artists (Grace Misoe Lee and Patrick Martinez) will discuss their process and how the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising influenced their work.“This unique and special partnership between Visual Communications and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is shaping up to be very important,” notes Tammy Borrero, Director of Events at UCLA Luskin.  “Our Asian Pacific American filmmakers and creative talents are key to a holistic approach to re-imagining and implementing policies to move L.A. to a pluralistic, socially-equitable society.  FLASH POINT 2017 is a vital and essential place to check in on our progress and move things forward to our desired goals.”

This year’s 33rd LAAPFF competition line-up for Grand Jury Awards for North American feature films is rich with stories and insights from important and nuanced perspectives from creative talent across the spectrum.


  • CARDINAL X Dir.: Angie Wang
  • CHEE AND T Dir.: Tanuj Chopra
  • COLUMBUS Dir.: Kogonada
  • GOOK Dir.: Justin Chon
  • I CAN I WILL I DID Dir.: Nadine Truong
  • THE LOCKPICKER Dir.: Randall Okita
  • NORMAN JONES Dir.: Mike Sakamoto
  • WEXFORD PLAZA Dir.: Joyce Wong
  • WINDOW HORSES Dir.: Ann Marie Fleming

Window Horses3


  • 95 AND 6 TO GO Dir.: Kimi Takesue
  • A TIME TO SWIM Dir.: Ashley Duong
  • FINDING KUKAN Dir.: Robin Lung
  • GHOST MAGNET ROACH MOTEL Dir.: Shinpei Takeda
  • MELE MURALS Dir.: Tadashi Nakamura
  • MIXED MATCH Dir.: Jeff Chiba Stearns
  • RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE Dir.: Konrad Aderer
  • SAVE MY SEOUL Dir.: Jason Y. Lee
  • UNBROKEN GLASS Dir.: Dinesh Sabu
  • WHO IS ARTHUR CHU? Dirs.: Yu Gu and Scott Drucker

The LAAPFF is proud to be an Academy qualifying festival for the Short Film Awards. The Festival was approved by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences late last year with this 33rd edition being the first where recipients of the Film Festival’s qualifying awards will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards® without standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules. The winner of the Golden Reel Award will be eligible to enter the Academy Short Film competition. The contenders include:

  • AND SO WE PUT GOLDFISH IN THE POOL Dir.: Makoto Nagahisa
  • COIN BOY Dir.: Li Chuan-Yang
  • DEER GOD Dir.: Tomorrow Mingtian
  • HOLD ON Dir.:  Christine Turner
  • I AM JUPITER I AM THE BIGGEST PLANET Dir.: Matthew Victor Pastor
  • PRIA Dir.: Yudho Aditya
  • HOLD ME (CA CAW CA CAW) Dir.: Renee Zhan
  • LOLA LOLENG Dir.: Cheryl Tagyamon
  • REMEMBER Dir.: Shunsaku Hayashi

“We’re very excited and honored for our Festival to be a Short Film Academy qualifying fest,” said Francis Cullado – Executive Director of Visual Communications. “In our continued effort to support our filmmakers, we hope this designation opens new avenues of recognition for them.”

Additionally, the Film Festival establishes this year the Golden Reel Award for Excellence in Documentary Short Films. This stellar inaugural class includes:

  • FOREVER, CHINATOWN Dir.: James Q. Chan
  • PLEASE COME AGAIN Dir.: Alisa Yang
  • TOUGH Dir.:  Jennifer Zheng
  • UNDER THE SAME SKY Dir.: Yoyo Li

After Closing Night on May 4 in Los Angeles, the Festival will continue with a Festival Encore Program May 5 through 11 in Buena Park at the brand new CGV Buena Park 8 with encore screenings of select Film Festival films; and a special slate of works by award-winning filmmakers on the recent achievements in Vietnamese cinema. Check the Festival website for this schedule.

“It’s our firm belief that the wonderful offerings of Festival Week 2017 should be seen by as wide an audience as possible, and what better way to accomplish that than by partnering up with our longtime partners CGV CInemas to expand our footprint into Orange County, in their brand-new CGV Cinemas at The Source in Buena Park,” said Abraham Ferrer. “In addition to presenting encore screenings of select festival faves, we’re excited to team with CGV and the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association to offer the best of new Vietnamese cinema.”

For program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, and to purchase tickets, please visit Tickets are on sale now.

The Festival is is proud to be partnering with our following screening venues across Los Angeles and Southern California

  • Egyptian Theatre – (Hollywood)
    6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
  • Aratani Theatre @ JACCC – Little Tokyo (DTLA)
    244 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Art Share LA – (DTLA – Arts District)
    801 E. 4TH Place, Los Angeles, CA 90013
  • Tateuchi Democracy Forum @ Japanese American National Museum – Little Tokyo
    111 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Downtown Independent – Downtown LA (DTLA)
    251 S. Main Street, (between 3rd and 2nd Streets), Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • CGV Cinemas – Koreatown – Mid-Wilshire
    621 Western Avenue (between 6th Street and Wilshire Blvd.), Los Angeles, CA 90005
  • CGV Buena Park 8 Cinemas – Buena Park (Orange County)
    6988 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90621
  • The Great Company – Downtown LA (DTLA)
    1917 Bay Street (between Wilson and Mateo Streets), Los Angeles, CA 90021
  • Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (DTLA – Little Tokyo)
    152 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Directors Guild of America – West Hollywood
    7920 Sunset Blvd. (at Hayworth), West Hollywood, CA 90046

The 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is sponsored by:

  • PLATINUM: Comcast NBCUniversal; HBO
  • GOLD: Directors Guild of America; Nielsen; LAIKA; UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • SILVER: Little Tokyo Service Center; Pechanga; Sony Pictures
  • BRONZE: Motion Pictures Editors Guild; SAG-AFTRA; SAGindie; Taiwan Academy; The Famous Group; Hawaiian Airlines; Korean Film Council; Union Bank; Writers Guild of America, West
  • STAR: Cathay Bank; Metro
  • GOVERNMENT: Dept. of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; California Arts Council; National Endowment for the Arts
  • FOUNDATION: Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences; Aratani Foundation; Asian Pacific Community Fund; Screen Actors Guild-Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund
  • MEDIA: Angry Asian Man; LA18 KSCI-TV
  • IN KIND/RECEPTION: Asahi; Brewyard; Found Coffee; Far Bar; First Street Catering; Nature’s Bakery; The Park’s Finest
  • VENUE: ArtShare L.A; Chinese American Museum; CGV Cinemas; Downtown Independent; Directors Guild of America; Geffen Contemporary at MOCA; Japanese American Cultural & Community Center; Japanese American National Museum; The Great Company